Sunday, 1 November 2020

🍴Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo ~ Helena Fairfax

 On this quiet Sunday morning why don't you put the kettle on, make your favourite breakfast and settle down for Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo

🍴I'm delighted to welcome, author, Helena Fairfax  to our Sunday Brunch today🍴

Hello Jo, it’s lovely to be here again. Thanks so much for inviting me over for Sunday brunch. Wish we could do this in real life, and not at a social distance!

🍴Welcome Helena, what favourite food are you bringing to Sunday brunch? 

I love both breakfast and brunch, especially on a Sunday, when you can take your time. I think my favourite Sunday brunch would be fresh croissants. 

🍴Would you like a pot of English breakfast tea, a strong Americano, or a glass of Bucks Fizz? 

I’m usually a complete tea addict, but if we’re having croissants, a mug of milky coffee would be lovely! 

🍴Where shall we eat brunch – around the kitchen table, in the formal dining room, or outside on the patio? 

Shall we pretend it’s not November, and that the sun is shining? Let’s pretend it’s May – my favourite month – and sit outside in the sunshine, looking at all the shrubs and flowers in bloom. 

🍴Shall we have music playing in the background? And if so will you share with us a favourite song or piece of music that makes you happy? 

I’m a massive Prince fan and I’ve been lucky to see him live a few times. What great nights they were! So many happy songs to choose from, but perhaps Raspberry Beret has the best Sunday brunch vibe. 

🍴Which of your literary heroes (dead or alive) are joining us for Sunday Brunch today

Ooh, I have so many favourites, if I could ask them all, there would be an enormous crowd here! We’d definitely have to go out for more croissants 😊 To keep in the Sunday brunch mood, I’d ask some feelgood, witty heroines – Rachel Walsh from Marian Keye’s Rachel’s Holiday, Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables, Georgette Heyer’s Frederica, Lizzie Bennet from Pride and Prejudice, and Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum. 

We all need cheering up these days, and I’d love to spend time with these heroines. I think they’d leave a big smile on our faces! 

🍴Which favourite book will you bring to Sunday Brunch? 

That’s such a difficult question, especially for a Sunday. Again, I have too many favourites to mention, but perhaps one of my all-time favourites is War and Peace. People are often surprised, if they haven’t read it, to find how much I love it, but it’s a cracking story, and certain scenes stick in my mind. I don’t even get bored by the war bits. 

🍴When you are writing do you still find time to read for pleasure? And is there a book you would like to read but haven’t had time for …yet! 

I always have a book on the go, no matter what, but no matter how much I read, there are still many more I’d like to. High on my list is Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens, as I’ve heard so many great things about it. I’m also a big fan of Val McDermid as a person – but I’ve never read any of her books. I realise answering this question that I should definitely do something about that! 

🍴What’s the oldest book on your book shelf? 

I think my oldest book must be Weldon’s Encyclopaedia of Needlework, which I think was published in the 1930s. My grandma was really good at needlework, and this was her book. She gave it to my mum – also an excellent seamstress, knitter and crochet-er – when she first went to college to study to be a needlework teacher. I’m not good at practical sewing, but I love embroidery and knitting. I still refer to the book for different stitches. 

🍴Where do you find the inspiration for your novels? 

I find most of my inspiration in other stories, in books, films and TV. When characters are well-drawn, they become like real people to me, and I start to ask myself ‘what if?’ A story I’ve read or seen can spark off another in my head. 

One story that sparked off another for me is Rebecca. In my novel In the Mouth of the Wolf, my sinister housekeeper, Daria, is based on Mrs Danvers. I love both Kristin Scott Thomas and Lily James, and I’m really looking forward to seeing the new film version, which has just been released. 

🍴Have you a favourite place to settle down to write and do you find it easier to write in winter or summer

I have no particular favourite place, but I can’t imagine writing without my rescue dog, Lexi, sitting next to me. She’s right next to me as I write this. I tell her all my plots, and she’s my biggest fan. It doesn’t matter whether it’s winter or summer. Once I’m engrossed in my writing, then only that world exists. 

🍴When writing to a deadline are you easily distracted and if so how do you bring back focus on your writing? 

I’m one of those writers who needs a deadline to write. If I have a deadline, I knuckle down, but without one, anything – anything – is preferable to having to sit down at my keyboard. Emptying the bins, ironing tea towels – you name it, and I’ll procrastinate. 

🍴Give us four essential items that a writer absolutely needs? 

I can’t speak for everyone, but I need silence, a good night’s sleep, no worries, and a deadline. If I have all these combined, I can write like a demon. 

🍴What can you tell us about your latest novel or your current work in progress? 

My novel Felicity at the Cross Hotel is set in a little village in the Lake District. I was sad to leave this setting when I finished writing the book, and so I’m presently working on a story set in the same village. I have a new heroine and a new set of characters – so readers will be able to pick up the book as a standalone – but I revisit the Cross Hotel and its staff, because they know how to throw a great party. 

Felicity, my previous heroine, was inspired by one of my favourite literary heroines, Anne of Green Gables. She spreads happiness to everyone with her lively and sunny nature. 

My new novel is based around one of my favourite uplifting films. My heroine is a wedding dress designer who longs to escape the village, and… But I’ll have to finish writing it before I say more! 

🍴Helena, where can we follow you on social media? 🍴

Twitter @helenafairfax 

Here is the blurb to Felicity at the Cross Hotel 

A quaint old hotel by a lake in the mountains should be the perfect place for a relaxing summer, and Felicity Everdene is looking forward to a quiet break from working in her father’s stressful business. A few weeks hiking and swimming should restore her.

But then the hotel’s new owner, Patrick Cross, takes Felicity for the replacement barmaid, and things don’t turn out quite to plan. With a grumpy chef, a waiter with love troubles, and the old Tudor building in need of renovation, Felicity’s quiet break soon turns into a working holiday.

But Patrick’s dreams lie beyond the mountains, and Felicity’s loyalties lie with her family, and anyway, holidays can’t last forever...can they? 

More about Helena

Helena Fairfax is a freelance editor and author, a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, the Society of Authors and the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading. She is addicted to reading and will read the cornflakes packet if there is nothing else to hand. Helena writes romantic novels in which women take the centre stage. She is also the author of a history of the lives of women in Halifax, West Yorkshire, in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. 

When not writing, Helena can be found with her rescue dog walking the Yorkshire moors near where she lives, dreaming up her heroes and her happy endings. 

Thank you so much for having me and all my literary heroines round for brunch, Jo. I’ve loved visiting – and what a great way to spend a Sunday!

Thank you for taking part in Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo. 

Follow us on Twitter #SundayBrunchwithJaffaresdtoo


  1. Thanks so much for having me, Jo. Your Sunday brunches have really cheered up lockdown!
    Since writing this I've watched the new Rebecca, and Kristin Scott Thomas was a fabulous Mrs Danvers.
    Thanks again, and have a lovely rest if weekend!

    1. Thank you for being such a lovely guest and for sharing Brunch with us. The new Rebecca is on my list to watch over lock down ! Glad you enjoyed it x

  2. Oh. I loved Felicity at the Cross Hotel...

    1. Oh, thanks so much, Linda and Jo. I'm halfway through writing the next Lakes book. Thanks for your kind comments. You've spurred me on to write faster! :)

  3. I'd love to share a cup of tea with you ladies, but distance, not COVID separates us. I'm in FL and iced tea would help me cool off! I need silence to write too. Felicity is my favorite book of yours Helena. Thanks for the delightful visit with you gals.

    1. Iced tea sounds wonderful. Thanks for visiting from FL :)

    2. Thanks so much for dropping in from Florida, JQ! Iced tea sounds lovely. It's a bit chilly here, though! Thanks for your visit! x

  4. What a lovely interview... I can't wait to read your next story, Helena. I work better to a deadline too, but sometimes too much pressure can make me go blank and I get stuck for ideas.

    1. Thanks for visiting, Marie. Always lovely to 'see' you :)

    2. I know that feeling of going blank, Marie. You have such wonderful ideas for your novels, though! I love your imaginative stories. I'm very much looking forward to collaborating on our next Miss Moonshine anthology. Thanks very much for sharing out brunch! x

  5. Enjoyed the interview. Nice knowing more about Helena.

    1. Thanks for visiting. Glad you enjoyed the interview.


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